The Interview Show, Chicago

The Interview Show is a Web-based talk show, replete with host (the effervescent Mark Bazer), desk, a couch, theme music, and studio audience (above).  Best of all, it’s held in the bar/club, The Hideout, with bands playing after, and waitresses walking through the audience keep the liquor flowing.  Many thanks to Mark, my fellow guests, and Jon from Book Cellar for hawking books.

NMSU–Las Cruces

Above, but some of the goofy expressions I apparently make while reading–captured here in Ed Sullivanesque black and white by NMSU MFA candidate Josh Bowen.  The theater was actually dark, though it doesn’t look it here.  I tried to snap a picture of the 150 literature fans gathered in one place–in the desert no less.  Of course that one didn’t come out; but at least there’s a picture of me taking a picture of them.  And the last two: a lovely one of MFA candidate Melanie Sweeney who did a riveting reading before me, and the two of us together.

Also got to trek in the desert, watch people waiting in a seemingly endless line to get into El Paso from Juárez, teach a master class with forty whipsmart students, drink with the MFAs and faculty (and former faculty), and eat a Mexican breakfast across from a the lavish office of a handless yet decidedly badass private investigator named J.J. Armes, pictured on a billboard in front with a pistol in his right hook.  Thanks, Rus Bradburd and Connie Voisine (and Itty Bitty), for conjuring all this, guest-housing me, and being the perfect hosts.

Champaign-Urbana, IL

Forgot to take pictures, but a great homecoming (this is where I teach).  Read and spoke to a lecture class team-taught by my colleagues Richard Powers and Michael Madonick (Rick gave me head-spinning introduction), then read across the street at Illini Union Books, introduced in similar fashion by Jodee Stanley, our Ninth Letter wonder-worker.  (Fortunately, Madonick was in the mix to rib me back down to size.)  Not the first time I’ve had occasion to thank Steve Davenport and Scott Baseler for setting up a great reading, but the first for a reading of mine.

Los Angeles

My Hollywood marquis, right down the block from Pauly Shore’s.

Thank you, Ted, Emilia, and the others at Book Soup for selling my book and running the event.  And those smart, cool readers who continue to come out, including Kristen, professional fanthropologist, whose career path was inspired by The Savage Girl, and now inspires me in turn.  And good luck to Nicole, Conor, and the others at the shiny new Mysterious Galaxy in Redondo Beach.

San Francisco / Corte Madera

One of the most photogenic cities in the world–pastel homes, trolleys and hills, fog and the Golden Gate–and the only I picture I thought to take was this:

Didn’t even get the magnificent redwoods surrounding, on this hike through the Muir Woods.

Two great readings.  Booksmith on Haight, adeptly run by bookseller and flash-fiction writer Whitney Ochoa.  A deep conversation afterward about everything from Jung to DARPA, thanks to some well- and widely-read regulars.  And Book Passage in Corte Madera.  Thanks to everyone there who came out for the event, including Jeri from NJ, whose love of literature inspired me to contemplate the unthinkable–actually writing another book.  And thank you Karen West; and host Johanna Rapp for the gracious introduction, the thoughtful gift (I will put them to use!), and for prepping for signature (and re-prepping to the black title page) about a hundred books.  Also stopped by some other terrific indie bookstores while there–M is for Mystery in San Mateo, Books Inc. on Chestnut, and Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley.  Thanks much, guys, for your enthusiasm, and for (in Mrs. D’s case) the high Berkeley praise of “mindf**k” and “refreshingly weird.”

New York, 9/11/11

75 degrees.  Cloudy.  Walked around the perimeter of the barricades.  The new tower: a shock to see it finally going up.

Along the esplanade by the Hudson, the steel from the old ones, forged intothe U.S.S. New York, a San Antonio class amphibious transport dock ship, inching south.  Firefighting boats and police boats skitting by.

And a man in a yacht, watching the ceremony on TV:

Took me a while to find the usual suspects (been wondering where they’d gotten to) on the Broadway side:  The stooped old man with big glasses and a sign with a picture of Bin Laden, black bullet-sized hole in one eye and the words Wanted, Dead and NOT Alive.  Thank You Obama.  The man in the white cowled robe with thin rainbow stripes and the requisite End is Near Repent sign.  The Bible-handout squadrons.  The conspiracy crowd (three times the size as five years ago), same banners, T-shirts, outraged faces.

The most peaceful among the crowd: the photographers.  Next: the police, everything well in hand.  On speakers and a video screen: the bereaved, the names, so many names.  All morning, and not even halfway done.

Scratcher, New York

Wish I had a picture for this one–maybe one will surface.  Great readings by fellow SOHOans Paula Bomer, Henry Chang, and Juliann Garey.  And a boisterous, beery crowd.

BookPeople, Austin, TX

I didn’t notice the giant brain floating over the audience at the time, but it couldn’t be more apropos.  Up front there center right are Marla Akin and Jim Magnuson, who lavish their brainpower and even more importantly their love on the Michener Center for Writers year after year.  Delegates from the present and future of fiction and poetry surround them, with the occasional game designer and horse whisperer thrown in.  Thank you, Liz, Julie, and Jen (hovering angelically just out of the frame) for making sure things ran just right.

So much began for me here in Austin.  That, those above, and the fact that I spotted an actual, archetypal white 70s Cadillac convertible with mounted longhorns downtown, made for a memorable trip.

Powell’s on Hawthorne, Portland

So we seemed to lose the propellers on the way to Portland, but made it anyway.  (My friend Rob at Microsoft explained what’s actually happening here: “This might actually be an artifact of the order in which the camera was reading frame data from the CCD — sweeping across laterally while the pixels themselves were strobing from the propeller’s shadow.”)

Thank you James and Diane for setting up a great event at Powell’s on Hawthorne.  Another engaged, smart, beautiful audience.  Including Lisa and Rachel here–

These are homemade The Savage Girl T-shirts that they’re wearing!  Replete with lines and “sloganitions” from the novel on both front and back.  I’m so touched by this, words fail me.  What an honor to have such cool and creative readers.

Elliot Bay, Seattle

What an impressive library.  So nice to see books taken so seriously:

Well, except for…

…due to budget cuts, that sign says.

Just as well.  Did me good to get away from books for a while anyway:

All these sightseeing pictures because I forgot to get a picture of the Elliot Bay audience–probably for the best, might have weirded them out.  But this was a terrific audience, engaged and really thoughtful questions.  Thank you, Selena, for letting me know how you’ve been waiting for a new one from me–sorry it took so long!  And thank you, Laurie, for doing such a great job managing the event.